An excerpt from the new book, You Are Here (For Now), by Adam J. Kurtz:
Sometimes I get too caught up in my phone and all the terrible things happening in the world.
I open the phone and yes, sure, I feel connected to my friends and the specific blend of opinions I’ve invited into my feed, but there is an overwhelming amount of news that is hard to digest and a pervasive, low-level feeling of panic and dread.
I have felt this regularly for a few years and have taken some steps to mitigate, such as turning off all news media push notifications on my phone and occasionally muting the sources of information that I need a break from.
The reality is not that bad things have suddenly started happening with alarming frequency (although in some ways, the results of our actions as a whole, such as ignoring climate science, have absolutely brought us here).
The truth is that humans have long been completely terrible to each other, corporations have put profits over people, and some of us have been turning a blind eye to the suffering of others. Whether this is a conversation we’re all having or not, these things are occurring. And now we’re seeing more of it.
Technology has made capturing and distributing information incredibly easy, and so we are witnessing, sometimes in real time, crimes against humanity.
We are witnessing, sometimes as it happens, people dying, suffering, or causing harm to others. There is so much of it, and it’s all around us, and it can be overwhelming, and so at a certain point the impulse is to just log off. The impulse is to disconnect and shut down.
What’s most healthy for you right now and most healthy for all of us in the long term may not be the same thing. It’s my feeling that taking some time away from the endless news cycle is helpful and sometimes necessary, especially if you are in close proximity to the subject.
Basically, if you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed, opt out. Take the time you need and once you feel safe again, come back in.
For most of us, the endless cycle of “sadness, outrage, desire to take action, manageable action, keep moving” is unsustainable. The pent-up rage, tight shoulders, and clenched jaw help nobody and take years off your own life. There has to be a balance.
"One thing to remember is that good people are out there. Good things are happening. While outrage tends to spread faster, good news exists too."
One thing to remember is that good people are out there. Good things are happening. While outrage tends to spread faster, good news exists too.
In fact, it’s often not newsworthy at all, because by definition, the commonplace activity that is ever present around us isn’t news. There is overwhelmingly so much goodness in the everyday experience of being alive, so many positive interactions and occurrences in our communities, that it is simply not reported to the same degree.
So we focus on the things that need changing, or the sensational headlines that blend fact with emotion for the sake of shock-entertainment, and forget that everyday people are doing everyday things.
Every single day, someone is saying something positive to someone else out of kindness or gratitude. Every single day, someone is doing one small action that betters another person’s life, even if they don’t know it. Every single day, people are preparing meals for the ones they love. Every single day, people are going to work, even if they’d rather not, to care for, impact, or better other people’s lives. Every single day, you are doing some good, even if you don’t think about it that way.
Opting out of the constant stream of negative for a bit doesn’t mean pretending it isn’t happening.
Your bubble might feel safe for a while but it will always, always burst. Bubbles are beautiful iridescent floaty magic but incredibly thin and literally empty. The bubble is not sustainable. It is a wonderful place to visit, to feel temporarily childlike (assuming you had a pleasant childhood) but there is an expiration date.
If you need a reprieve, allow it, but keep one eye open to the reality on the other side of your rainbow perimeter because even a bubble has to exist in space, and space is complicated.
The most sustainable solution I can think of is one where “good vibes” and “bad vibes” and midrange “OK vibes” coexist. It is only when all our vibes can vibe together that we can ever truly reach vibe equilibrium, not a temporary bubble but a novelty mold of fruit and cream and hope and fear suspended in red Jell-O forever.
This unfortunate dessert is the closest thing to reality as we know it, a mixed bag of good and bad that has to be acknowledged equally because a little bit of everything is happening at all times.
You can pick around and eat your favorite fruits first, but eventually you’ll be left with nothing but a soggy pile of canned pear slices and you’ll have to eat those too.
This chapter, Bad News Pears, was excerpted from You Are Here (For Now) by Adam J. Kurtz.
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